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Pros and Cons
Posted by Michael Strahan on Feb 21 2004
Boater-

Lost of good info here, and I'm sure there will be more to come.  Here are a few things to consider-

PROS

I like wall tents.  There's no floor, so it's not hard to keep it clean.  You can lay a tarp down inside and then just shake it off to clean the floor.  They're roomy.  It's nice to stand up in your tent and walk around a bit- especially if the weather is nasty.  Many of them have a stove jack, and a small wood stove makes a nice addition on those frosty mornings.  There's also a nostalgic aspect to the smell of old canvas and the feeling of camping out in a shelter just like what was used many years ago in the Pioneer Days in Alaska.  A wall tent allows you to use cots for sleeping.

CONS

Canvas wall tents have been far surpassed by modern materials.  Canvas rots easily, and unless you spend additional time maintaining it, it will literally come apart at the seams.  It's also much heavier than nylon materials- and bulky too.  It soaks up water like a sponge and becomes even heavier.  Few folks would consider using a canvas wall tent on a float hunt because of weight and bulk issues.  They're great for fixed-camp operations for the reasons mentioned above, but there are better tents on the market now.  Another negative is that most folks cut trees down to use for the support structure.  The growing season is short in Alaska and a six-inch tree measured across the butt could be a hundred years old (I know- I counted the rings).  For folks concerned about such things there are better ways.  Of course another negative is the design itself.  Wall tents have high sidewalls, and heavy winds or snow loads will literally cause them to collapse.

ALTERNATIVES

The Arctic Oven, built by Alaska Tent and Tarp, is a great alternative to a wall tent.  It has its own frame and you can get them with a stove jack (they even sell the stoves).  The tent is nylon and it's well ventilated.  You can stand up in this tent, and you can also use a cot for sleeping.  The tent is a light color, which allows good light penetration.  This is a huge factor during the fall hunting season.  If you have an emergency on your hunt, the bright color makes the tent easy to see from the air.  If bad weather keeps you tent-bound for a few days, the light color makes it easy to read and lends a more cheerful atmosphere than a dark tent.  The bright color also makes it easier to find your tent at dusk if you've been out hunting late.

Barney's Sport Chalet has a series of cabin-style tents called "Bomb Shelters".  They are available in sizes from 8x8 to 12x12, and come in camouflage or OD green.  It's a well-built tent that will last you many years.  The rainfly slopes to the sides, and allows air to flow over the tent much better than a straight-wall style tent.  That means that the tent can handle a bit of wind.  I wouldn't recommend pitching it out on open tundra, but it will certainly perform better in the wind than a conventional wall tent.

I'd stay away from the cheapo Winnebago-style family camping tents you'll find at WalMart, Costco, etc.  They're terrible in the wind, leak, and will only last you a couple of seasons of heavy use.  The frames are wimpy too.

OTHER CONSIDERATIONS

Pitch this type of tent in a sheltered area- timber is best, but thick alders can work as well.  Securely tie the tent down.  A good cabin tent for Alaska hunting should have tie-downs along the bottom edge of the rainfly, and along the mid-body area as well.  Ideally, the tiedowns should somehow tie in to the frame too- otherwise you're just securing the rainfly and the tiedown could rip out in heavy wind.  It's hard to imagine the conditions you will experience out there with your tent, but if you've hunted Alaska for a few seasons you won't have to.  You know.

As to cost, buy the best.  You wouldn't think of moving your family into a tarpaper shack- why would you risk camping in the wilds of Alaska in a flimsy, poorly-made bargain tent?  Granted, many folks have stayed out there with nothing more than a tarp (I know at least one of those crazies).  But the point is to get something that will hold up under the conditions and last you several years.

Best of luck!  I hope this helps you.

Regards-

-Mike

Previous: Canvas tents Ray Feb 21 2004
Next: Mike is right! Brian' s Top 5 Brian Richardson Feb 22 2004

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